At the beginning of the season, the men’s soccer team made it their goal to win the UAA conference – a task that has eluded them in the past several seasons. Last Saturday, UR started conference play on the right step with a key 3-1 victory over Brandeis University outside of Boston.

The Yellowjackets came into the game knowing that the Judges would be a difficult opponent despite having a record below .500. Brandeis returned most of its squad from last year’s UAA second place team and featured an attack that included Jamacian striker Shelton Stewart – one of the nation’s best forwards.

But UR kept Stewart checked for the first 85 minutes of the game, and in the meantime scored the first three goals of the game. Sophomore forward Nate Micklos returned to full strength after being plagued by a knee injury during the latter-stages of September and played a hand in all three goals.

The first occurred in the 26th minute when senior Ross D’Eredita converted after Micklos found him with a pass amidst a scramble in front of the net. Micklos scored eight minutes later on a pass from sophomore Gary Stom and closed the UR scoring in the 77th minute off of a free kick.

UR coach Chris Apple was particularly impressed with the play of his defense.

“Our backs had their best effort of the year,” Apple said. “They were winning mostly every ball in the air and were great in one on one situations.”

On Tuesday night, UR faced crosstown rival Rochester Institute of Technology and barely escaped with a 3-2 victory. Just as in Saturday’s contest, the Yellowjackets exploded for a three goal lead, with deft passing and powerful finishing.

Sophomore Colin Fernie volleyed in a cross from freshman Trent Green to give UR a 1-0 lead at halftime. Five minutes into the second half, D’Eredita scored his second goal in as many games on an indirect free kick from fellow senior Nick Wheeler.

“It’s a shot he practices in training all the time,” Apple said of the goal.

Only two minutes later Stom hooked up with Micklos again, passing it to him off of a free kick. Micklos blasted the ball into the right side of the netting, giving the Yellowjackets what seemed to be an insurmountable lead.

However, RIT responded with two goals in a five minute span in the 64th minute to make the game interesting.

Any hopes of sending the game to overtime were thwarted though when senior goalkeeper Brian Minehan pushed a low, hard shot around the post late in the game.

Apple feels that his team has made several substantial improvements in the past couple games.

“We’re defending better in the box and playing with a high work ethic and high concentration,” he said. “We’re talented enough that if we play like that for 90 minutes each game we will have a successful season.”

UR will need to put forth such a performance in its next contest against New York University – another formidable UAA foe. The game will be part of a Meliora Weekend tripleheader Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Fauver Stadium.

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